Fr. Dwight Longenecker: Dogma Libertates. Relativism Enslaves… Here’s Why.

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By Fr. Dwight Longenecker, Blog, July 9th, 2020

Rusty Reno’s recent book Return of the Strong Gods opened my eyes to some of the reasons why relativism has gained such a foothold in Western society. He shows how, after the second world war, a group of thinkers, philosophers, economists, political strategists, literary figures and theologians all began to believe that the wars that tore apart Europe for the last five hundred years were the fault of dogma.

I can see why they thought that. Beginning with the wars of religion after the Protestant Revolution, Europe was torn asunder time and again because of opposing beliefs. Often it was religious beliefs, but then it became political, economic and social. If dogma caused division, strife and eventually war, then let’s get rid of dogma. “Can’t we just get along?”  This trend had an impact on theology and ecumenism as well. Post war Catholic theologians turned away from the rigid dogmas and definitions of scholasticism and began re-interpreting the faith in more open ended ways. Instead of dogma a “pastoral” solution was to be found. Instead of definitions and devotions that divide they came up with practical solutions to thorny problems. In the realm of ecumenism, by looking together with Protestants at what we share progress was made taking both sides away from the dogmas that divide towards the shared beliefs that unite. In theological ecumenical discussions the drive was to “recast and re-imagine the ageless doctrines and re-frame them with new formulations that all could agree to.  …

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